Children books

A bad case of stripes and Mulan II

A Bad Case Of Stripes
Red Butterfly

I’m not a snob, but I’ve come to dislike Disney movies. The more I analyze them the worse they stand the test, and I simply can’t enjoy them anymore without their obvious propaganda ringing in my ears.
The girls bought Mulan II for a dollar at the library. Last Friday we sat down as a family to watch it. I remember having seen Mulan I before having the girls, before not having TV, and before having thought a bit about the things that come into the heart of our family in the form of books, movies, clothes, food, etc.

I don’t recommend anything about Mulan, from the language, to the characters (none has nothing real, nothing dignifying, not any values or characteristics to aspire to or be moved by) including the plot. It’s just simply a bad movie, and as I’ve experienced, my daughters reenact parts of the movies they watch, or the books we read, or the conversations and experiences they have, so why would you want this twaddle to become part of their life?

By contrast, let me tell you about these two books that are empowering and real. Red Butterfly is real, it speaks about the same topic as Mulan II, an arranged marriage, but it is meant to be based on a real story, so the protagonist knows her fate and shows her sadness with acceptance of her duty in a poetic book that captures that Asian flair (or our Western idea of Asian flair). It speaks about the gods and ancestors, about the chamber where the consorts take a bath, but my daughters know that other cultures don’t worship God and that in ancient China women had to marry by arrangement. At the same time the girls are enticed by the commodities and beautiful life of a princess, books like this plant the seed of doubt in their fantasy of a perfect princess life. They teach that everything comes with a price and that life has those elements of duty and work, for the peasant to the noble alike.

A Bad Case of Stripes is empowering. This girl fears being who she is, a girl who likes Lima beans and tries to fit so badly she ends up blending with every color, word, and thing she is given by others. I like the subtle critic to medicine too. The specialists, experts, all doctors, including an ‘environmental therapist’ can’t heal her from her illness. An old lady with a bunch of Lima beans restores her to her normal look. She finally accepts she wants to eat those beans bad. It ends up with her happily eating Lima beans for lunch at school, and not caring to be thought of as weird by the other children. It’s the ‘old times remedy’, such as our grandmother’s ability to see what we need and what is troubling us, what cures Camila. This very well worn theme for a book, ‘be who you are’, ‘don’t be afraid’, it’s presented cleverly. My oldest says she is scared by the book, my youngest and I love it. If you like this particular story or not is irrelevant, what matters is that there are MANY books out there that will make your children grow and expand their minds and that will touch their hearts, why then to settle for those Disney movies?


2 thoughts on “A bad case of stripes and Mulan II”

  1. I'd have to agree on some of the Disney “Princes” movies. But have you seen some of the more recent Pixar movies? Namely, Up? Such a sweet movie with a beautiful image of marriage.

    But, in a contest between a movie and a book, the book will usually win hands down. Even before our oldest was a year old, before I'd ever heard of Charlotte Mason, I felt hesitant about introducing her to Disney films, especially if they were adapted from books. Like Pinnochio. Peter Pan. Cinderella. 101 Dalmations. I think it makes it harder to become truly engrossed in the book. I wish I had listened to those early instincts.

    Curious about Red Butterfly.


  2. Hi Elinette,
    Thank you and Heather for mentioning those Pixar movies…good to hear they seem to have the quality other Disney movies lack. And I should have said that we like Mickey, Donald, and some movies from Disney. It's that we observe there is a lot of bad productions made to get money from us, the consumers.


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